5 Most Underrated Marvel Characters of all Time

Squid-Boy (Sammy Paré) 

(Google Images)

A mutant who had the ability to speak and breathe underwater and the unfortunate appearance of a fish, Squid-Boy may not have had the most exciting mutant powers. However, what he lacked in powers he made up with his unquestioning belief that people can change as evidenced by his trust towards Juggernaut (Cain Marko). Squid-Boy arguably was the driving force behind Juggernaut’s sense of conscience and reformation after saving him from drowning and becoming friends. It was this friendship which led Marko to remain with the X-Men.

Squid-Boy only appeared in the X-Men from 2002 to 2004 due to his untimely death by the hands of Black Tom (Tom Cassidy), and the guilt Juggernaut feels for unwittingly leading him to his death is arguably one of the factors as to his decision to join the Thunderbolts.

However, what truly makes his death so saddening was that Sammy Paré died unaware that Juggernaut had neither betrayed him nor the X-men but was in fact tricking Black Tom. Squid-Boy dies hating Juggernaut for something he had not done.

Bova Ayrshire

(Google Images)

Known as the Old Woman on the Hill, Bova is actually a genetically evolved Guernsey cow who is simply a nanny to the High Evolutionary (Herbert Edgar Wyndham) and his ‘New Men’ – other genetically evolved animals Wyndham has created. Originally situated on Wundagore Mountain, Bova helped a sanctuary seeker named Magda give birth to twins before the mother continued up the mountain and perished from the extreme weather. The twins were the mutants Quiksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff). Trying to give the twins a normal life, she unsuccessfully attempted to give the children to Whizzer (Robert Frank) after his wife (Miss America) passes away giving birth (another woman that Bova was midwife for). Therefore Bova fosters the twins as her own until she is able to find a suitable foster family such as the Gypsy couple named Django and Marya Maximoff. Bova once again became a foster mother when Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) woke up on Wundagore with no memory of her past, looking after her until Hydra rescued her from a fleeing mob and brainwashed her into the Hydra agent Arachne.

Bova can be seen as a character that is neither good nor bad; she is simply a midwife and foster mother that looked after a number of future superheroes. She can be seen as a vital character to a number of Marvel heroes but is barely known because she doesn’t regularly appear in the Marvel world. Nonetheless, she is the key to a number of Marvel’s family connections, most significantly Quiksilver and Scarlet Witch’s father.

The Ghost

(Google Images)

A man who uses his ‘ghost-tech’ to turn himself and others he touches invisible or intangible, very little else is known about Ghost including his actual name as well as his true origin. Ghost claims that his boss’ capitalist greed led him to wearing the ‘ghost-tech’ when they killed his girlfriend (who he later found out was hired by the company to keep him working on new technology they could sell for their own profit). However, what makes the Ghost so dangerous is that his anti-Capitalist views added to his knack for computer science and his ghost-tech makes him the ultimate saboteur. He can easily enter high security areas and hack their computers to either gain its information or destroy it. Places such as the Pentagon would be vulnerable to attack as well as the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier (if not for its ability to fly). Additionally, he makes a threatening hit-man for the same reasons which is why so many shady businesses have hired him for corporate jobs (only to discover that their own corporation would be next).                 

In a country that is the epitome of capitalism, the Ghost is an intimidating enemy who is able to escape arrest time and time again. With very little way to defend against him, it is fortunate that the Ghost seems obsessed with Tony Stark (Iron Man), the one man who can protect against his attacks.

Doop

(Google Images)

The product of a Cold War era U.S. military experiment, Doop is the camera man for the celebrity mutant super team X-Statix. Despite this, he should not be underrated. Doop has the ability to access a nightmare dimension named ‘Doop-Land’ that exists insides himself as well as an untested level of energy projection that can prevent psychic attacks. Additionally, Doop has regenerative powers as well as several other abilities connected to time and space distortion. Although an ally to the X-Men (protecting students at the Jean Grey institute for higher learning) Doop is rather violent character showing no remorse or mercy in killing others as shown in the torture he puts Corkscrew (a mutant driven insane by his power) through before killing him with an axe while smiling. What also makes Doop underrated is the fact that he can hold his own against one of the Avengers’ powerhouses; Thor (Thor Odinson).

It is too easy to see the ‘Slimer-like’ appearance of Doop and assume from his appearance he is simply there to add comical effect but in truth he is more dangerous than most of his associates. An anti-hero in short, he has also been responsible in exposing scandals such as El Guapo’s (Robert Rodriguez) threesome with two models that led to his girlfriend leaving him and his sentient skateboard violently attacking him. It is evident that Doop should not be underrated as to how much damage or good he can ultimately do especially in connection with the amount of power he possesses.

Korvac (Michael Korvac)

(Google Images)

Originally a computer technician that welcomed the hostile invasion of the Badoon on Earth on a parallel universe (Earth-691), Korvac was ‘improved’ by the aliens and made into a cyborg to be a more efficient worker which led him to revolt. After a number of battles with various superheroes, Korvac found himself able to use his cyborg abilities to download Galactus’ central computer information evolving him into a God-like being. Using the Power Cosmic for himself, he gained the potential to wield almost infinite power. He could resuscitate life, time travel, disintegrate foes absorb power from any force and use a variety of mental powers. These skills ultimately made Korvac invincible and invisible to any scans. He was so powerful that the Avengers could not defeat him and most of them perished in the battle until he realised that his wife (Carina) began to doubt him. Korvac decided to commit suicide as he had done everything for Carina and resurrected all the Avengers that had died in the battle. Cheesy as it is, it proves love conquers all.

Despite holding ultimate power and doing the impossible; defeating all the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Korvac is almost forgotten today. In part this is due to the fact that Korvac was not evil but truly thought his powers could help mankind and was thought to be noble by Moondragon (Heather Douglas). However, if in some way he was resurrected and continued with his plan to conquer Earth, the Avengers would in fact find him a deadly nemesis.

Advertisements

Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

8/10

You would think that Marvel would be struggling to think up new ideas after the plethora of films they have released lately but you would be wrong. Their latest addition, Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, rids any thoughts that Marvel might be putting less effort into their film franchise relying on their already established audience who would avidly watch anything they distribute; like a heroin addict to their next fix (myself included). The movie consists of a good plot that integrates into Marvel’s overall cinematic universe as well as opens up opportunities to expand it through other superheroes involving aliens other than Thor whom have yet to be portrayed such as Miss Marvel and Nova.

A human thief, a green assassin,  an alien, revenge-driven murderer, a gun-toting racoon and a living, walking tree, joining forces in order to prevent a genocide determined leader from destroying an entire planet may sound a little farfetched at first but its beauty relies in making the unbelievable believable. In typical Marvel style, the movie concentrates quite heavily on how the main characters interrelate with one another which, in turn, gives these characters a sense of realism; each protagonist has their own reason for being with the others but that doesn’t mean they have to get along. It is the subtle change from selfish wants to working as a team which gives Guardians of the Galaxy as well as other Marvel films (e.g. Avengers Assemble) its out of this world experience.

Marvel’s summer blockbuster also breaks the mould from the rest of their franchise as it requires more from its special effects department, as not only do entire planets need to be created but also entire spaceship chase scenes and two of the main characters; Rocket the Racoon and Groot, the tree-like being. All of this makes Guardians of the Galaxy an action-packed, unique movie with a number of imaginative, spectacular and colourful views. Although some jokes are specifically suited for an adult audience they are not explicit so will give parents and teenagers something to laugh at while children remain oblivious allowing Gunn’s film to be enjoyed by people of every age.

The cast also makes this film a must-see movie with stars such as Glen Close and Karen Gillan both taking rather important roles in the movie. However, what makes the cast choice excellent is that each protagonist appears to have had the correct actor to play them. Chris Pratt’s personality fits well with Starlord’s talkative and cheeky nature whereas Bautista’s wrestling career suits perfectly for his part as the brutish Drax the Destroyer. Perhaps most talked about though is Bradley Cooper who voices Rocket the Racoon. Although only voiced, Cooper seems apt for the role; Rocket is portrayed as a frequently angry racoon with a sense of humour which matches well with Cooper’s charming yet wily trademark. Although not the best film for people to ogle over their celebrity crushes; with very few scenes of bare chested men (other than Bautista) but perhaps some (although not too overtly) sexual allure towards Saldana’s character Gamora through her skin tight clothing, the audience will be able to enjoy the film for what it is; an adventure about conflicting personalities that just so happens to take place on a number of other planets.

Through some great character development, humour, awkward dancing and a classic 80’s soundtrack; Gunn’s film Guardians of the Galaxy seems to have it all. The only question unanswered now is how will the Guardians of the Galaxy integrate into other Marvel films?

(Google Images)

Not just Pulp: A Comic Book Conundrum

(Google Images)

Comic books. Just the words bring to mind an image of a socially inept spotty teenager with too much time on his hands. Seen as a nerdy pastime (just look at The Big Bang Theory) comic books and graphic novels alike have both been misjudged and undervalued by the everyday public. There is more to them than meets the eye than simply the out-dated assumption that they are for kids. In fact, quite a vast array of graphic novels portray within them images I certainly wouldn’t want my kids exposed to due to its mature material. They are not something to scoff at simply because of the stereotypical and ultimately negative images society has assigned onto comic book readers. After all, leading bookshops such as Waterstones are expanding the number of shelves they allocate for graphic novels in their stores so surely they must see something in them that others do not.

Graphic novels have recently become integrated into popular culture than you might have originally guessed. Obviously they have been used as the core material for an abundance of movies such as the Batman and Spiderman film franchises. Yet, comic books have permeated into filmdom much more than these frankly obvious examples. How many people knew that V for Vendetta, Sin City, Constantine as well as 300 were all adapted for the big screen from graphic novels? These adaptations were created because their original media platform were thought to be worthy of captivating a much larger audience in the cinema. Additionally, comic books are also used in some cases to continue already aired TV programmes that were extremely popular but too expensive to screen continuously; two examples of this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which began publishing ‘seasons’ through graphic novel format after the season 7 finale on television, and another cult television series Farscape which has so far released 8 graphic novel volumes since 2003. Additionally there have been some examples where films have also been adapted into comic book format such as the Star Wars franchise; however there are very few compared to television adaptations.

Graphic novels are also used because they can express views on key social issues more easily than other forms of literature due to the blurred lines they draw between word and image. Comic books have already been used to discuss mental illness (Batman), anarchy (V for Vendetta) and even environmental issues as seen in Swamp Thing just to name three. A key figure in this approach to using graphic novels as a conduit to discuss important subjects that were originally thought as too complex for comics is Alan Moore. Moore is thought to have helped add a greater respect for the medium by evolving them out of the simple pulp comics of the 1950’s and into mediums which stand on their own due to their social critique.

Just as comics have evolved from simple pulp, so has literature. It is a fluid concept that constantly changes over time. Arguably graphic novels are simply the next evolutionary step of literature; moving contemporary texts away from the post-modern writing style. What other alternative can literature make after post-modernism which is defined as a style that attempts to be different than any other form of literary movement that has preceded it? Additionally, classic texts such as Brontë’s Pride and Prejudice have been converted into graphic novels suggesting an attempt to ‘modernise’ old classics. Other popular texts which are not renowned for being classics such as Meyer’s Twilight saga have also been converted into comic book format, again suggesting a leap towards a future where graphic novels are viewed as a key form of literature rather than a form of low art only geeks and adolescent boys read. Proving that comic books are NOT just for kids!

Movie review: ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’

9/10

The newest film in the X-Men franchise has arrived, linking the original trilogy and its prelude, X-Men: First Class, together in an attempt to combine some of the audience’s favourite characters. With stars such as Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and Ellen Page reprising their super-powered roles, the film features a narrative where mutants are near extinct, in a future reminiscent of Nazi Germany, due to the actions of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

In order to change the future, the small number of mutants left attempt to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) newly-discovered and somewhat unexplained ability of merging one’s consciousness into a younger version of themselves in the past. In this sense, X-Men: Days Of Future Past vaguely follows the 1981 comic book of the same name, in which Kitty sends her own mind back in time to prevent an apocalyptic future. It is also refreshing to see an X-Men film which does not entirely focus on Wolverine but on the relationship between Professor X (James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen).

Much to the excitement of comic book fans everywhere, the infamous sentinels are portrayed as the main threat to the X-Men in this film. Those who are unsure of these villains should be aware that they are robots created by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) to police mutants and detain them. However, they work too effectively and are eventually used to kill anyone who is a mutant and those who attempt to help them.

What makes these villains so significant however is how they allow both Xavier’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood Of Mutants to work together in order to determine their own survival, as presented wonderfully in the film through the breathtaking portrayal of the unstoppable sentinels in the future.

X-Men:Days Of Future Past takes a rather more gritty approach than the former films, with a number of onscreen deaths in the post-apocalyptic future. With that in mind, the action scenes are excellently rendered and, despite its tendency to switch between past and future quickly, the story is fairly easy to follow. The colours added in post-production differentiate the contrasting time periods; scenes set during the 1970s are vibrant and colourful, whereas the scenes set in the future are tinted darker, giving the impression that the future had no hope for mutantkind, and giving a nostalgic feeling to the past.

Days Of Future Past makes up for Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s last X-Men appearance, The Last Stand, which was seen to ruin the franchise for a number of people. X-Men: Days Of Future Past uses time-travel as a means to whitewash over the events that had occurred in previous films.

It should be mentioned that if you are unaware of any of the previous X-Men films, this movie may not be the best to watch first; it relies heavily on knowledge of the preceding films. With that in mind, X-Men: Days Of Future Past neatly packages the entire franchise together to allow for the announced film X-Men: Apocalypse, as hinted by the appearance of the super mutant in the post-credit scene.

(Google Images)

Movie review: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

8/10

After the events of Avengers Assemble, Captain America (Chris Evans) has returned to the big screen with a new threat to fight. But this time, it appears to be much closer to home than alien invaders: the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D) appears to be under threat from an organization from Captain America’s past.

After Head of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is violently attacked, and Captain America (AKA Steve Rogers) is brought in as the last person Nick saw. As a result the hero becomes a wanted fugitive for holding valuable information on the attack on Fury’s life, thereby asking the question: who can you trust when you are dealing with a secret organization?

The Winter Soldier does not simply follow the patriotic superhero, but also centres around Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newly introduced superhero Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Similar to most Marvel films, the movie focuses heavily on how the characters associate with one another. This is seen through how Captain America must learn to trust Black Widow, who has her own questionable morality and ‘secret agent’ status to follow in order to discover who is behind the infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D.

So, where does the Winter Soldier come into play in this story? The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is an elusive Soviet Agent with a metal arm, who is thought by most to be a ghost story due to his ability to remain off the radar and keep his identity hidden altogether. However, this threat is very much alive and extremely dangerous, having already crossed paths with Black Widow and outmatching her once before. With his super strength, skilled fighting skills and expertise with any weapon, the Winter Soldier is just as powerful as Steve Rogers and has been ordered to kill both him and his allies.

It must be acknowledged that although parts contained oversimplified explanations in order to keep the most idle audience following the plot. Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of Captain America’s elderly love interest Agent Carter was excellent; without explicitly stating so, it was evident that she suffered from some form of short term memory loss, which was both moving and treated with respect.

Moreover, the film balances action, emotion and humour fairly well without ruining the overall espionage theme that is similar to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In this sense, Captain America: The Winter Soldier differs from the other Marvel films that have recently been released, as it attempts to take more of a realistic approach to the story.

Although this film may not fit into Marvel’s original paradigm, this movie is worth seeing if you are interested in unfolding ‘Phase 2’ of Marvel’s cinematic universe, since much happens that will be of importance in the future. Additionally, this film allows those unfamiliar with/uninterested in the superhero genre to find something of interest through its spy-thriller register.

(Google Images)

Why Watch…‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

(Google Images)

With the completion of Marvel’s ‘first phase’ comes the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division’s (S.H.I.E.L.D.) very own ‘spy-fi’ series that exposes Marvel’s ideology of how superheroes would actually be viewed in our ‘normal’ lives.

Following the events of Avengers Assemble, the much loved Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) from several of Marvel’s films returns with a new ensemble of agents, consisting of the hot-headed yet loyal Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), the cold veteran agent with a haunting past. With the help of bumbling S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and the rebellious ‘civilian’ hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet), the team are tasked in tackling alien phenomena and organizations globally.

The series largely focuses on the criminal organization ‘The Centipede Group’, who are researching into creating their own super-powered soldiers (inspired by Captain America) and its multiple operators, such as the Clairvoyant and the ‘Girl In The Flower Dress’.

It must be mentioned that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does not require watching all the Marvel films created recently, however there are several connections that make the narrative easier to follow if one is already aware of what has happened. One such example is guest appearances such as Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury) and Cobie Smulders (as Maria Hill).

(Google Images)

If you want to delve deeper into Marvel’s cinematic universe, or desire an action-packed spy drama with a difference, then Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is perfect. Moreover, it would be valid to posit that future releases from Marvel will most likely reference back to the series, thereby giving motivation to any possible future viewers of Marvel films to watch them now.

Movie review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′

6/10

The wise-cracking webhead returns in the next instalment of the latest adaptation of the Marvel comic classic, with Andrew Garfield continuing his role as the young, fun-loving superhero. This time round, director Marc Webb, seems to have taken a different approach to the web-slinger and has focused heavily on his alter-ego Peter Parker’s social life, most importantly his on again/off again relationship with Gwen Stacy (in spite of a promise he made to her late father to keep her safely distant from his vigilante deeds).

Unlike its prequel, which centred around Spider-Man’s origin story and Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard,The Amazing Spider-Man 2 focuses mostly on the origin of the super-charged Electro. Jamie Foxx’s electrifying performance as Electro (AKA Maxwell Dillon) brought to life a clever depiction of the super villain with an obsessive disposition that had yet to be seen in the Spider-Man canon.

Despite this, the film suffers from the same curse that struck Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 as it recklessly forces the Green Goblin, a complex criminal genius worthy of his own movie, in towards the final fight scene. In doing so, there was no time to give one of Spider-Man’s favourite antagonists the screen time they deserved. Additionally, Rhino is unworthy of being mentioned as one of the key villains, disappointingly used as a simple cameo despite the theatrical trailers portraying his appearance as one of the major fight scenes.

As if to rub additional salt into the wound, the film’s post-credit scene, as is expected from all Marvel films, seemed less to do with adding to an overall Marvel story in a clever teaser-like-manner. It had blatantly inserted a trailer for X-Men: Days Of Future Past instead. This left one feeling cheated having already watched a vast portion of the overall credits, after a series of disappointments, for a simple theatrical trailer that added very little excitement for the upcoming film.

For the fans, the movie seemed to fall short of expectation, leaving them wanting more, especially with the action one expected. However, for those who want to see a film that will entertain for a few hours and who don’t officially follow the Spider-Man canon, then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does its job. It must be said that although the film seemed unfulfilling, it was simply because the trailers promised more than it actually gave which became more evident as the film continued.

It is suggested that if you go to see the film, then you should forget what the trailer asserts and expect a decent, well-acted and entertaining film which attempts to move away from the typical superhero blockbuster film, replacing the emphasis of action for how being Spider-Man affects Peter Parker’s relationships with others, both socially and romantically.

(Google Images)